What to Do When the Whole Family Gets Sick


What to Do When the Whole Family Gets Sick | Columbia SC Moms Blog

My family recently went through a week of stomach bug/flu/virus nightmare. Here are some tricks I learned (or wish I learned) for when the germs come your way.

Keep Hands Away From Your Face

This is good advice all of the time. I feel like I can pinpoint when we started passing the germs – it was at a restaurant when the preschooler would not stop putting her hands on/in my husband’s mouth and on/in my mouth. That night, victim #1, my husband, was in the bathroom at 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., and 6 a.m. and … I think you know how the rest of the day went. That was Saturday. 

Be Prepared

When one family member gets sick, go ahead and assume everyone will follow and get your supplies ready. I headed to Target with the preschooler for all of the things. Our supplies? Garbage bags, Lysol, magazines, Pedialyte powder, Pedialyte popsicles, Kombucha, Vitamin C, Throat Coat and Immune Booster teas, crackers, and $100 in assorted other things we needed, because … Target. After a nice stroll through Target, Sunday morning at church and other assorted errands where we were apparently spreading germs, victim #2 was hit – the preschooler. 

Plan to be Stuck in Your Home for a Week (or More)

In my family, if the preschooler is sick, it is up to me to stay home from work. If this is you, go ahead and cancel all appointments for the week ahead. I went day by day, foolishly thinking that we would be back to normal in a day or two. You will lose the entire week, and maybe more, if you have more kids (we just have one). Cancel or reschedule anyone who comes into your home as a service (cleaning lady, bug guy, whoever – you are now under quarantine!). Reschedule meetings, line up substitutes if you are a teacher … just get ready. This thing is here to stay (for a while).

Add Baking Powder to Your Shopping List

On Monday, the preschooler was coughing and there was snot everywhere and then … vomit. The first time it happened was, of course, on the couch. Sigh. I run her to the bathroom so she can hang out by the toilet while I try to clean up the vomit and keep the dogs from enjoying it as a snack. I Google, “how to remove vomit from the couch.” Google tells me to use baking powder. I basically just got up as much puke as I could and then poured baking powder over the stain. It sat there much longer than necessary, but when we finally got around to vacuuming the powder off the couch, the stain and smell were gone. Once the puking starts, it’s GAME ON.

Have a Garbage Can Nearby and Try to Teach Your Kid to Throw Up in There if They Feel the Need

See if you can figure out a “clue” as to when your kid is about to get sick … mine would say, “my tummy hurts” and then let loose. I would know to grab the garbage can. Did it save us from carpet splashes? Not always, but it certainly helped.

Stock up on Extra Sheets and Bedding

The hardest part about a bug that makes you puke is the clean-up. She got sick in our bed a couple of times and what helped us was having extra sheets nearby (buy some now, if you only have a set or two!); making sure that the laundry was getting moved around so that there was always an empty washer to throw the soiled sheets in. And, a mattress protector is ESSENTIAL. Get two. Three. Otherwise, I feel like I would have just needed to buy a new bed. 

Anticipate Being the Next Victim

During all of this, when my kid was sleeping and during the day, while she was napping – I could feel her hot breath and germs seeping into my body. By Wednesday afternoon, I am laying on the kitchen floor, texting my husband to please come home. By Wednesday evening, I am victim #3.

This is when things get interesting. I am very Type A and am the one who does the grocery shopping, cooks the meals, and all the things. At this point, I can do nothing. It is up to my husband to do it all. If this is you, you have to give up worrying that the laundry will be folded correctly. That the dishes will be put away in the correct spot. Just let your partner help you. 

Embrace Screen Time 

I am usually pretty strict when it comes to screen time, but when YOU get sick, you have to rest. Moms are not magical creatures who can be sick and still do all the things. We need to rest too. Television and my phone were lifesavers here. We watched so much television and played with so many apps during our week of being sick. The detox afterward was rough, but you do what you have to do. 

Other Things that Helped

  • Shipt – Groceries to my front door!
  • Bite Squad and Door Dash- No one starved!
  • Amazon – I couldn’t get to the store for things like toilet paper, snacks, etc. Amazon to the rescue!
  • Cough drops, lollypops, and cold water – SO.MUCH.COUGHING. These seemed to help
  • Extra towels
  • Open windows – stomach bugs smell
  • Baby Wipes – better on the nose than tissues
  • Hand sanitizer – every time we blew our nose, we used it
  • Epsom Salt – take baths in it

What do you do when your family gets sick?

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Valerie Byrd Fort was born in Florida, but when she was four years old, her family moved to the midlands and never looked back. She is mom to Katy (human) and to Lucky, Mozzy, and Penny (rescue dogs). She is married to Marty Fort, owner of the Lexington School of Music, Columbia Arts Academy, and Irmo Music Academy. She is an Instructor for the School of Library & Information Science at the University of South Carolina, where she teaches Children’s Literature to future classroom teachers and librarians. She is also Coordinator for Cocky's Reading Express, the University of South Carolina's literacy outreach program. Valerie is passionate about books, literacy, libraries, and reading aloud with children of ALL ages. She writes about books and other literacy related topics on her blog, Library Goddess. In her free time, Valerie enjoys reading, Barre3, going to Target and endless scrolling of social media  


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